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I have done this. I know how it is to enter a life 
not your own, yet one so known it could be. 

To see everything saved, only to be abandoned 
this way. Left-behind books. Sweater on a hook. 

Carved wooden box with a tuft of cat fur inside. 
Towels folded in a narrow closet. Basement full 

of broken tools. Kitchen full of cooking pots. 
Chocolate bar among the cups. To face 

the evidence of unpaid bills, forgotten pills, 
colonoscopy photos in a take-out menu, 

forty-seven shoehorns—one in the pantry. 
To drive to the landfill, the charity store 

until you barely feel it anymore. 
Next-door daughter, you will be all right. 

Work into the night if you want to survive. 
Look for something to leave behind. 

Shells in a line on a windowsill. 
An emerald bottle to catch the light. 

When it was my time, I walked to the creek, 
found a palm-sized rock to leave on the porch, 

my mark on the canvas of this time. 
Wayfinder, relic, message, mudra— 

the tumbled-smooth gray they call river stone—
is black ash when it rains, a dove in the sun.


Brett Warren is a long-time editor whose poetry has been published in Cape Cod Poetry Review, The Comstock Review, Green Fuse, One Sentence Poems, Primavera, Provincetown Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, and Unbroken Journal, and is forthcoming in duality and Eunoia Review. She lives in Massachusetts. 

© 2022, Brett Warren

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